OLEAN, N.Y. — While school districts continue with a hybrid model of in-person and distance learning and work to meet the ever-changing education needs of students, the Wolfinger Family Fund is making possible $2,000 in support for three school districts.
Harold “Sandy” and Connie Wolfinger of Haskell Road established the Wolfinger Family Fund, administered by the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation, in 2019 to support the Ellicottville and Smethport, Pa. and Coudersport, Pa. districts.
The fund supports educational programs, activities and/or equipment purchases at several school districts with annual grants. Their donor-advised fund also will be supporting other charitable causes in the future.
The Wolfingers structured the fund with the intention of having a lasting impact for many students by supporting projects in the awarded districts rather than by making one-time awards to individual students.
The three school districts — Ellicottville, Smethport and Coudersport — all have ties to the Wolfinger family. Sandy and Connie’s children and grandchildren have attended each school.
A $1,000 grant to the Smethport district will support the purchase of new, reusable smart notebooks for fourth-graders and a CPR training project that was canceled due to the pandemic.
Angela Lapp, a fourth-grade teacher in Smethport, said Rocketbook notebooks allow students to utilize handwriting rather than only typing for note-taking and homework, which has been proven to boost cognitive function and retention for students at a time when many students are facing the challenge of working both in the classroom and at home.
“My class of 20 students would all greatly benefit from the addition of Rocketbook to our everyday learning activities and assignments,” Lapp said. “Rocketbook would ultimately provide students with a traditional method of learning, while meeting the needs of technology today.”
Of the $1,000 grant for Smethport, $500 will support the purchase of the Rocketbook technology; the other $500 will support the purchase of mannequins for CPR training for staff and students.
Theresa Daniels, a Coudersport teacher, said the $500 grant to the Coudersport district will support the purchase of two new iPads for the district’s STEM lab classroom. The iPads will also be utilized as part of the district’s livestreaming and broadcast audio programs, both of which are student-run.
The STEM/Smart lab serves students from grades seven through 12, Daniels said.
“We push our students to explore all that technology has to offer because our community, although rural, has an impressive network infrastructure that makes the potential for STEM-based jobs in the future a reality,” Daniels said.
The $500 grant at Ellicottville Central School will also be used to purchase iPads for student use in the district, which has seen an increase in demand for technology to enable more distance learning in the last year.
Due to the pandemic, Ellicottville Central School took on the goal to place at least one iPad in the house of each family that has elementary aged children attending school, requiring the purchase of approximately 175 iPads in addition to the district’s inventory, Superintendent Robert Miller said.
The $500 grant in 2020 from the Wolfinger fund supported the purchase of iPads as well. The Community Fund at CRCF also provided a $2,500 grant to fund the purchase of iPads in the district.
“It has been a year since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the reality is that school districts continue to face challenging circumstances to safely provide instruction to students,” said CRCF Executive Director Karen Niemic Buchheit. “It is a credit to the foresight of the Wolfingers that a fund like this exists to help close the gaps in needs for area schools.”
Donations can be made to the Wolfinger Family Fund at CRCF, 301 N. Union St., Suite 203, Olean, N.Y., 14760, or online at cattfoundation.org.